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We are currently tasked with isolating ourselves from the people we are closest to during one of the most stressful and uncertain periods in recent history. The good news is that social distancing does not necessarily mean no socializing. There are plenty of creative ways to stay connected from a distance while we practice social isolation. Remember: the more seriously we take this, the sooner it will all be over.

And, once we're able to get a little closer to our loved ones, it's a good idea to keep some relevant tips and ideas in mind for staying in touch with friends and family who live far away.

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Keep in touch with a conferencing app

One of the things we miss the most when we’re unable to socialize in person is seeing the faces of people we love in real-time. Thankfully, we live in an age where we can do just that with a little help from technology. Group video chats are the next best thing to face-to-face interactions, and they're ideal for virtual get-togethers.

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Host a virtual happy hour

Set aside one evening a week to catch up with your besties on Facetime, Hangout, or Zoom over glasses of wine, homemade cocktails, a pint, or your favorite drink of choice. Add some sustenance to the mix with makeshift tapas, even if it's just cheese and crackers. Dress up if you want, or keep it casual in sweats or jammies.

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Reach out to neighbors from a distance

Italians under lockdown made headlines when they sang out to neighbors from their balconies. While you may not have a balcony of your own, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a convivial spirit into your neighborhood. Social distancing block parties are becoming a thing now. Arrange a time when everyone sits on their driveway or front porch and chills out together, at a distance.

There’s also chalk parties, where neighborhood kids decorate driveways and sidewalks with beautiful drawings to add some much-needed color and cheer to emptier-than-usual streets.

You can also stay connected through technology. Nextdoor, a social networking app, recently added a Help Map feature that alerts neighbors that someone needs assistance nearby.

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Arrange a “birthday parade”

Is one of your friends stranded by social isolation on their birthday? Make their day by surprising them with a birthday parade. Have your friends decorate their cars, blow up balloons and make banners, and schedule a time to line up and do a lively drive-by past the birthday boy or girl’s home.

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Meet for lunch, sort of

If you’re missing lunch dates and coffee breaks, you can recreate them while still keeping your distance. Pack a picnic for your car, park side by side with your loved ones in front of a beautiful view, and roll down the windows as you enjoy your meal and chat from at least six feet away. It’s not perfect, but it can make things feel slightly more normal until they are back to normal again.

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Hold a watch party

Remote movie nights are happening all over the country as a result of social distancing. The Google Chrome extension Netflix Party allows you to sync up a stream at the same time as your friends from the comforts of your own couch. Pass the popcorn!

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Go old school with snail mail

When was the last time you received something other than bills or junk mail in your mailbox? But now that we're all stuck in our houses, a smile delivered directly to our doorsteps is exactly what we need these days. Start a trend and send someone you love something handwritten from the heart. Seal it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it, and either drop it in the nearest USPS drop box or pop it in your mailbox with the flag up.

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Host a virtual games night

Get the drinks and snacks ready, and “meet up” with a group of friends on video chat for a trivia night or pub quiz. Games like Cards Against Humanity are also hilarious. Make it feel like the real deal by dividing everyone into teams, and make sure to keep score. You’ll be so caught up in the fun, you’ll forget you’re not in the same room as one another.

Virtual games night

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Take it outside

Good news for nature lovers: you can safely enjoy the outdoors together as long as you maintain a distance of six feet or more. You aren’t in an enclosed space with one another, so you aren’t breaking social distancing rules. As an added bonus, fresh air, exercise, and vitamin D will give your immune system a boost.

Just make sure you drive in separate cars and don't share any equipment.

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Make fun plans for the future

You might not be jetting off anywhere anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean all your dreams have to come screeching to a halt. Anticipatory happiness, or the joy of having something to look forward to on the horizon, is a very real thing that can help us get through hard times. Keep planning ways to spend the happier times ahead together, such as finally taking that trip you’ve always wanted to go on, or going to your favorite local restaurant more regularly.

Those plans will be waiting for you once this crisis is over -- and yes, it will be over. The silver lining? We’ll never take being together for granted again.

Planning vacation getaway kitzcorner / Getty Images

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